I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have seen you speak highly of AbsoluteWrite.com on multiple occasions.
I admit, I am biased in the opposite direction. Every time I see you tell writers to check out their writing forums, a little part of me dies inside.
Why do you like AbsoluteWrite so much?
Every time I have posted or read and replied to posts there, I have been bullied, belittled or ignored. I always leave their forums feeling like I need to crawl into a tight space and cry, or wanting to pick up my monitor and chuck it across the room.
I don't want to sound haughty, but I'm almost positive I am not the only person who feels this way. With a simple Google search of "bullying on AbsoluteWrite" a variety of results come up where people talk about their experiences.
Now I'm sure there are gems of people out there in the AbsoluteWrite community, but it seems like the majority like to tear new writers down in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
This leaves me wondering why someone I respect (you) and go to for answers, and who seems to really care about writers trying to pursue their dreams, would advocate a place that has such strong ties to bullying behavior.
I am not trying to be rude here, or trying to serve up a smack down. I am genuinely curious. Have you experienced otherwise on the forums? Did you not realize that such behavior was going on there? Or do you think writers need a strong backbone and if they can't handle AbsoluteWrite, then writing isn't for them?
On a side note, I haven't been to their forums in about a year now. I had an absolutely awful experience there around that time and swore them off completely. COMPLETELY (I am being extremely civil here in expressing the amount of mouth-foaming, eye-popping rage I have for that community). So, maybe the moderators have changed? And the community is much better now than it was? I hope that might be the case, but am doubting it.
For starters, that's never been my experience at AW, but it never would be. As an agent, people over there tread pretty lightly around me. The last time someone was dismissive of me, they were quickly chastised by other posters.
Which may illustrate your point.
Yes AW is a free for all, but there are moderators and I've seen them step in and close down threads that were getting out of hand, and remove users for inappropriate posts.
And yes, groups of people tend to sort themselves into In/Out and woe betide the new writer who doesn't understand that dynamic is fully at work in any bulletin board community, let alone one as long standing as AW.
You didn't mention which forums you participated in. I've only seen Ask The Agent and Bewares and Background Checks. The people who get smacked down there tend to be the ones who come in full steam ahead without doing any research, and who tend to have opinions that don't match the majority. And people who don't listen very well (or read other posts very well.)
AW is an incredible resource for information for writers. Before AW there wasn't a place for writers to exchange information about response time, or experiences with agents, agencies or editors. I think that's a VERY good tool for a writer to have.
But I also think that AW, like all groups, has its own way of doing things, and that can be No Fun if you don't know what those unspoken rules are or if you fall afoul of them.
I don't want to get in to a big debate about AW here. Your experience there is yours. I will tell you though that you can find blog posts around the web from writers talking about THIS blog and how mean, rude, and awful I am to people. Not every resource is suitable to every person.